Saturday, January 29, 2011

DWELLING [revised]

Strolling through these woods, I've chanced to dwell
upon the mouth of this long-abandoned
well. The boards its former owner must have
placed across the hole to keep stray animals
from falling in have rotted, gone to ground;
the stones that ring the lip are so moss-crusted

you can barely see them; a dump of rusted
cans and antique bottles surrounding the well
has sprawled and overflows onto the drowned
carcasses below. Fireweed's abundance
hereabout suggests the homestead's fate, animals
screaming as ember-jewelled rafters cave

in on them. Or not. It may be that I crave
high drama to explain the blown and busted
beauty of this plot. We are the only animals
seeking answers, building myths, raising dual
options. Making errors. What is it in abandoned
land, a refuse heap and a hole in the ground

sends my idle mind winding circles round
itself? Why not just wander on and leave
off speculation? Because abandoning
the understory to fungus and wild mustard
makes the deaths of those domestic animals
mean nothing, turns the history of their dwelling

here to dust. Out of every thing there wells
some essence, each dug hole and heaped mound
tells something of its labour, no animal
is separate from its heritage, so shave
away the surface of the piece of land on
which you stand and you'll find all the mustered

spirit matter of its clumped and clustered
self pulsing signals: activated nerve cells
messaging a brain. No land is abandoned
so long as someone somewhere saves
an image of it in her mind; no animal's
life ends when its bones are buried in the ground.

Time comes to abandon this idyll and heave
off for the green and rust-red concession I've dwelled
upon since birth. Animal smells, a well, tilled ground.

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